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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did I Pack My Toothbrush? Oh, and Clementines Pt. 2


Alright so I still need to wash my clothes so I can pack them, get all my cooking supplies organized, find my passport (I'm pretty sure I know where it is), and do just a hundred other things. But I need to share this recipe with you. Clemetine Olive Oil Cake. I got the idea from this great 24 hour cuban diner, Coppelia. They have a steamed olive oil cake with a salted brulee crust. That sounds digustingly good, right? It is. It is also six bucks for a tiny slice, which of course meant I seriously needed to find a recipe that at least came close to this cake. And I did! The secret: you bake the cake in a similar fashion as a cheesecake, in a water bath. It comes out creamy, dense, almost pudding-like.

Enjoy. I'll be back in three weeks with stories. One might involve me murdering a chicken.


CLEMENTINE OLIVE OIL CAKE
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
5-6 little clementines (or 3 normal oranges)
1 cup (200 grams or 7 ounces) sugar

Scant 1/2 cup (118 ml) buttermilk or plain yogurt

2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (156 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 3/4 cups (219 grams or 7 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch cake pan and place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. Grate zest from the clementines and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers or a fork, rub/mix ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar. 
Squeeze juice from about 4 clementines into a bowl; you’ll have a scant 1/3 cup. Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice until you have 2/3-3/4 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and olive oil.
In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones. Pour batter into prepared pan. Take a roasting pan and place cake pan inside. Then fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to go about half an inch up the side of the cake pan. 
Bake cake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

There's Just Nothing Like Friends....Hot Pot and Key Lime Pie


I don't care what you say (I know I can't hear you just go with it), there's nothing better than having a homemade meal with a bunch of old friends. Nothing. Tonight was exactly what I needed before heading off to 'Nam, and boy was this an AMAZING dinner. One of my good friends, who is Thai, made us a huge hot pot to all partake in. It was my first hot pot experience, and I cannot believe I've gone 25 years without enjoying this food of the Asian gods.


A huge pot of delicious broth teeming with fresh cabbage, spinach, tofu, noodles, parsnips and beef bones. Then you fill these adorable little baskets with shavings of raw meat, shrimp, fish balls or dumplings, let them cook in the broth, and gobble them up with all the veggies and broth. I ate past the point of being full. I ate past the point of pain. I ate till I physically had to stand up and walk away so I would simple stop eating. But then...there was pie.


Now I know I am pretty proud of most of my recipes on this blog, but I have to admit: I make a darn good key lime pie. And it was kinda the best ending to this meal. I think I'm going to float the suggestion that we do a monthly "Hot Pot and Pie" deal. Perhaps weekly. Perhaps we do it again on Tuesday. Whatever.


So about this pie. It's all about the balance of tart and sweet. And forget those who say you absolutely need key limes to make this pie. That's bull. But fresh lime zest and juice is essential. Don't you dare put one of those little plastic lime containers of juice anywhere near this pie. I'll slap you.



Key Lime Pie (adapted from Joe’s Stone Crab)
Note: while adding the lime juice, start tasting the mixture. You might need less lime juice than 2/3 cup, or if you’re a big tart fan you might need more. Make sure the pie filling is to your taste.

N’other Note: don’t worry about using Key limes for this pie. Regular ones work just fine. You might just need a bit less juice.

1/3 of a 1-pound box graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Dash of salt
1 cup heavy or whipping cream chilled
Splash of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Break up the graham crackers and place in a food processor and process to crumbs. If you don't have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag, seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin. Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and side of a pie pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack; leave the oven on.
In an electric mixer beat the egg yolks, lime zest and salt at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
For the topping, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until nearly stiff. Cut the pie into wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped cream.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Arm Should Probably Not Tingle Like This....Clementines Pt. 1


Sour Cream Cornbread w/ paprika, thyme, and cheddar.
So, after about four shoots of working my butt off chopping, stirring, kneading, etc. my body is finally catching up with me. At first my right hand was just a bit tingly more often than normal. But then I started waking up and realized I could slam my hand in a car door and not feel it, it was that numb. Typical me I just ignored it for a while, thinking "eh, my body'll figure itself out". But then I told my mom (a physician), who said "Um, yeah. You're getting carpal tunnel." Well ain't that a hoot.

Homemade Granola w/ pumpkin and sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Along with mixed fruit, yogurt, and coconut custard (that bowl of bright yellow stuff at the top).
So now I'm wearing this nifty brace, which makes me look all kinds of cool. Of course I was worried about what would happen when I headed to Vietnam this coming Wednesday, but the director and producer were nice enough to not give me just one assistant, but two! So I'm the supervisor, organizing my cooks and focusing on creating dishes rather than grunt work. Sweet. I seriously can't wait for this trip. My love of travel is on hyperdrive this year. First two months in Spain/France, now three weeks in Vietnam. Life is super, crazy good at the moment.
I call this "The Hot Mess". Dessert in 5 minutes. Caramel and vanilla ice cream topped with crushed mint oreos, and chocolate ganache poured all over. A six-year-old's wet dream.
But I have to admit, that awesomeness is paired with back-breaking crazyness. This catering gig has taken up a huge portion of my time. Along with writing and some rudimentary semblance of social life, I'm lucky to get four hours of sleep in a night. But for some reason everyone says I look well rested. Go figure. However, I think this is how I like my life. A mess of things to do and accomplish. Probably a big reason of why I'm a filmmaker. Speaking of which, my writing group was pretty impressed with my latest draft of the script! Success! Of course I still have loads to change and make better, but hey it's a step forward.

Oh wait, but I need to talk about the food! Alright, really quick: clementines are so in right now. I mean seasonally. I think. At least, Trader Joe's is selling them by the bushel, so I picked up a sack and then I had no idea what to do with them. I realize "eat them" is an option, but why do that when there's so many other fun things to do? So Clementine Cinnamon Bread Pudding it is. And guys, let me tell you. Oh MAN is this good bread pudding. I made this for the last shoot I worked and I almost didn't give it away. I was seriously contemplating just tossing them a pack of Oreos and keeping this Pudding o' the Gods all to myself. But I was generous, and I was right. The crew went ape over it. So go! Make this right now! Before clementines are "so last season"!

The base for dal makhani. Onions with garlic, ginger, my mom's gharam masala, all floating in an absurd amount of butter. This is why I think God might exist. 

Clementine Cinnamon Bread Pudding (based on America’s Test Kitchen)
Apologies for not having a picture of this glorious dessert! My next clementine-inspired dessert has a great beauty shot, I swear. 

Note: I used the Texas Toast loaf from Trader Joe’s for this dish and it was perfect. Challah would also be great, of course.

 ‘Nother Note: I actually am not sure how much sugar I used to make this. I’d say when making the custard start with a generous half cup and see if you need more after making the custard.

2
tablespoons light brown sugar
½-3/4cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 loaf thick white breadbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
7large egg yolks
3teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4teaspoon table salt
3 clementines (zested and juiced)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4cups heavy cream
2 1/4cups milk
6
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Adjust oven racks to middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine brown sugar and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in small bowl; set aside.
Spread bread cubes in single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, tossing occasionally, until just dry, about 15 minutes. Cool bread cubes about 15 minutes; set aside about a cup and a half.
Whisk yolks, remaining sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, clementine zest and juice, and salt together in large bowl. Add melted butter and mix. Whisk in cream and milk until combined. Add remaining 8 cups cooled bread cubes and toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and let stand, occasionally pressing bread cubes into custard, until cubes are thoroughly saturated, about 30 minutes.
Spread reserved bread cubes evenly over top of soaked bread mixture and gently press into custard. Sprinkle brown-sugar mixture evenly over top. Place bread pudding on rimmed baking sheet and bake on middle rack until custard has just set, and pressing center of pudding with finger reveals no runny liquid, 45 to 50 minutes. (Instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pudding should read 170 degrees.) Transfer to wire rack and cool until pudding is set and just warm, about 45 minutes. Serve.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh I'm a Wandering Man...Caramelized Tomatoes on Anything (and Everything)

Me sitting out on the dock outside of the set in Athens, NY on a particularly sunny day.
No! I'm not dead! You're surprised, aren't you. Sigh, look, I know I haven't been there for you as consistently as you'd like me to be. I know there are other blogs out there, decent blogs, who come home every night, or at least once a week. They're reliable, safe. I'm not like them, I go where the wind takes me. And I know that's one of the reasons you love me, baby. Everyone likes a wild blog.

Mis en place for aloo gobi. Mmm...
 Alright, that got a bit strange. I apologize. But really, I have been crazy busy. Why, you might ask? Well, I realized I'm super poor and to fix this problem I decided to...cater low budget film sets! Amazingly there are a lot of indie filmmakers out there who just need some good ol' homemade food for their crew and are willing to pay a little Indian girl reasonable rates to cook.

Herby roast chicken. I know it's raw, but it still looks delicious, no? 
 So I've spent two weeks in upstate New York, will be cooking for an independent feature this upcoming week, and then I'm working on a shoot in...Vietnam! Yes, as the cook. Crazy, right? That's what I said. Crazy awesome. The director asked me if I could kill a chicken. Be prepared for some interesting photos.

Listen to the assistant director. Or else.
 And because I've been cooking up a storm for the past several weeks, I obviously have LOADS of recipes to share with you guys. But I figured if I put all of them in one blog entry your heads might explode. And that gets messy. So instead, I'm really, honestly going to try and write way more frequently, and spread out my newfound knowledge in bits and pieces. Today, we're going to talk about the most amazing salad ever.

The bone from a pork shoulder butt. I came home to find the roast totally cooked, and all my marinade fused into a burnt crust on the pan. Oops. Was able to salvage the pork by marinating it in newly made marinade and chicken fat. Oh man was that pork gooooood.... 
But first, can I just say that sometimes...life just feels good? Honestly, this past month has really been really super decent. I'm happy with where my script is going (had a major breakthrough because of some excellent feedback I received, did a major overhaul), I like the work I'm doing on the side, had a great time hanging out with my family over Thanksgiving, things are going quite nicely. Let's see how long I can ride this happiness bubble for.

Last night dinner of roasted pork, garlic and ginger rice, and roasted corn and cabbage salad
More than anything, I'm glad I'm feeling confident in my script again. It's both great and terrifying. Great because I feel like this is actually going to happen, I'm going to make a feature film. Terrifying for exactly the same reason. But we're not going to focus on that right now. Right now we're going to focus on...caramelized tomatoes in a thyme cream sauce over arugula. I know. My mouth instantaneously began to drool too.

This deer kept staring at me while I was cooking on one of the sets upstate. So not comforting....
The thing about this salad is the tomatoes. You can put it on anything you want, it doesn't have to be greens. I've just found that this makes a really luscious salad option that people tend to lap up pretty quickly. And you need to do absolutely nothing to the greens. I just pour out a couple bags of pre-washed arugula (or some nice baby kale) onto a serving platter, top it with this mixture and serve it up with tongs. Amazing.

Aw, aren't they cute?
But originally, I made this dish with medium sized tomatoes, which created much less sauce/dressing, and it was intended to top off some buckwheat crepes. You can do that too. Or you can just serve them on their own. Or you can toss them into some pasta. This dish is the little black dress of tomato dishes. Take it anywhere and it looks good.

Sunset on the amazing porch of the amazing house we stayed at in Pawling, NY. 
Now of course, traditionally you'd make this in season. Summer is the best time. But we're getting into the ass end of fall, and I made this salad for Thanksgiving, and people still loved it. Try and get the best tomatoes, because even with the butter and cream and thyme, this is still all about the tomatoes. Oh, and on that note, don't you DARE get all squirmy on me because I mentioned butter and cream. Yes, there is fat in this dish, and yes, it's more than a pinch, but come on people, suck it up! Enjoy it now and spend twenty extra minutes on the elliptical. Seriously worth it.


 Seriously, doesn't that look amazing? I didn't even have time to take a photo of the dish before people started digging in. This is halfway through the platter. And trust me: make more than you think you need. This stuff goes quick. So go, make yourself a plate or two, I'll be back soon. Trust me, baby. (Ok, I'll stop doing that. I swear.)

Oh you grad film students, you crack me up. And confuse me.


Caramelized Tomatoes (based on Laura Calder’s)

Note: The original recipe calls for 2 slices of bacon, diced, to be cooked in the pan first till crispy and then set aside to be mixed into the tomatoes later on. I generally skip this step when I’m making this for catering jobs, as there are always a few vegetarians mucking things up. It’s just as good without, but if you can, why go without bacon?

Note #2: Also, if you’re making this with larger tomatoes, cut the tops off and poke a few holes in the bottom, cook 7 minutes cut side down, then flip and sprinkle in herbs and continue preparing the dish.

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 tbsp butter
pinch salt and pepper
fresh thyme
sprinkle dried tarragon
splash of wine/chicken broth
1/2 cup cream

Heat butter in a large sauté pan and allow to bubble a bit. Toss tomatoes in. They should sizzle a bit. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring every so often, and then sprinkle the thyme and crushed dried tarragon on top. Add salt and pepper.  Add a little glug of wine (or broth) and give the pan a few turns. Add cream and cook for 3-4 minutes. At this point you can toss the tomatoes around a bit; make sure they all get touched by those herbs.

When the cream begins to thicken turn off heat and pour tomatoes and sauce into serving dish or on top of greens (or whatever you like). Serve immediately. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why "Home" and "Food" are Synonymous....Aloo Poori and Gobi Pakora




After months of writing pages, rewriting pages, adding more pages, throwing away the pages I just added, curling into a fetal ball under pages, I emerged with a 6th draft of my script, which I submitted to NYU Grad Film's first ever notable screenplay list. If I get picked, I've been told my script gets a bit more attention (press releases, word-of-mouth, etc.). If I don't get picked...well I suppose something else happens. 

At any rate, I realized I needed a break. So where do I go? The one place I can completely regress and hide: home. Where my mom and I promptly proceeded to spend my entire vacation in the kitchen. Our first project were these beauties.


Aloo poori is essential a fried bread, but with cooked potato mixed into the dough. Think of it as gnocchi dough made into a disc and deep fried. But better. We followed my grandmother's recipe. Which is to say, my mom tried to remember what her mom did with no recipe whatsoever. 

I honestly can't remember the last time I had these. Seven years? Maybe ten. The thing is, my mother and grandmother are/were (respectively) the best at cooking Indian food. I am horrendously biased, but so what. This is my blog and I don't run a democracy. 


The last time I had aloo poori must've been when my grandmother made it, and she probably was last physically able to cook almost seven years ago. Food can really smack you in the face with hundreds of memories. The smell of these puppies frying up brought me right back to eight-years-old and watching my this old, squat woman deftly pulling a batch of pooris out of the fryer onto a paper towel. She might've been the crankiest person I've ever met but damn did she know her way around a kitchen.


And since we couldn't stop with just ONE fried food around the house, we decided to make a batch of gobi pakora, or cauliflower fritters. Probably one of my favorite snacks of all time, which is why I try to stay away from them 99% of the year. But this day was kinda like dominos. I mean, we've already got all this deliciously fatty fried bread...


Thing is, you're going to look at the recipes below and think "wow, these dishes are really simple". And they are...with a bit of practice. There's not much in the batter for the poori, but I actually think a few additions might not be a bad idea. If you're a cumin or coriander junkie, you could sprinkle some of that into the dough no problem. Personally, I think some dried fenugreek (methi) would be killer. 


Oh, and open a window, these things are going to stink up your kitchen like nobody's business. Another reason I went crazy eating up all this fried food at home: there's no way I'm going to try and make this in my windowless Brooklyn kitchen.

Notice the crazy blackened stains on the sides of our fryer. That's decades of love, my friends.
And just cuz I had made it earlier and there was one last piece sitting around, here's St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. Seriously, if you have a bit of time, make this cake. It's amazing for the soul (which means it's a cardiac arrest in a pan).

Now I admit I am quite a homebody, but I have to imagine that everyone has some feeling of relief when they step back into a place where they used to run around barefoot (and sometimes pants-less) with sticky fingers and crayons. Every now and then you need someone to ask what you want for dinner (which they will make with absolutely no help from you), or if you want to bake cookies for no particular reason.

Alright enough of that, back to reality. But before I go, can I have a snack for the plane ride?

 

Note: apparently I didn't get my mom's pakora recipe before heading back to NYC. Will find it for you guys soon! I'd say start with the poori first. They're my favorite.

ALOO POORI

4 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 ¼ cup atta (whole wheat flour)
¾ cup all purpose flour
Salt and red pepper to taste
Ground cumin, coriander, dried fenugreek (optional)
Enough water to make a sticky dough (approx. 2/3 cup water)

Mix flours, salt, pepper and spices/herbs (if using). Cut in mashed potatoes. Slowly add water till dough comes together and is a bit sticky.

Take small balls of dough (about 2.5” in diameter) and flatten with a rolling pin into discs about a half inch thick.

Set a pot with enough vegetable oil for frying on medium high heat. When it reaches about 375 degrees (at least that’s what it looked like) begin cooking the poori one by one by carefully placing the dough disc into the oil. Cook on one side till golden brown then flip.

Dry pooris on a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately or at room temperature



Note: Your cooking time will depend on what type of pan you use. If you’re going with metal, make sure to continuously check the cake, as it will bake faster than if in a glass pan.
ST. LOUIS GOOEY BUTTER CAKE (from Smitten Kitchen)

For the cake
3 tbsp milk at room temperature
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
For the topping

3 tbsp plus 1 tsp light corn syrup
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
1 cup plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.
CAKE

In a small bowl, mix milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add yeast and whisk gently until it dissolves. Mixture should foam slightly.
Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and the milk mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. I’d switch to a dough hook at this point and beat dough on medium speed until it forms a smooth mass and pulls away slightly from sides of bowl, 7 to 10 minutes. Dough will still be soft.

Press, stretch and nudge dough into a 9-by 13-inch baking dish at least 2 inches deep. Cover dish with plastic wrap or clean tea towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

TOPPING

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl whisk corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat in the egg. Alternately add flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
Spoon topping in large dollops over risen cake and use an offset spatula to gently spread into an even layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes; cake will rise and fall in waves and have a golden brown top, but will still be liquid in center when done. Allow to cool in pan before sprinkling with confectioners’ sugar for serving.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Anniversary! A Deluge of Recipes...


I didn't miss it! It's still October 10th in California!

I honestly can't believe it's been a year since I've started writing this thing. And in that time I've accrued possibly...five readers. Three if we don't count my parents.  Oh well, that's fine because when it comes down to it, am I really writing these little notes on life and food for anyone, or am I happy to have these words just floating around within internet ether for my own pleasure? Heavy stuff.

At any rate, I haven't been the best blog poster, I realize that. And I apologize. The past few weeks were nuts as I've been working towards a very important deadline for my script, which is now seven drafts old! (Sniff....they grow up so fast...) But now that things have settled a bit I find myself coming to a depressing realization: I really need a job.

But let's not talk about that right now. Let's focus on all the delicious creations coming out of my mess of a kitchen.


A few months ago an amazing food blogger named Jennifer Perillo lost her husband, Michael. His favorite dessert was peanut butter pie, and food bloggers around the world made a pie for Mikey. I did too, but kept mine and my thoughts in the fridge for a while. After I read about Jennifer and her family, I immediately went out to the grocery story to buy ingredients for my own pie. Even if Jenny never knows I made this, my thoughts and prayers are with her. As is this pie (in spirit). 

 

I made too much peanut butter filling, so what do I do? Make another peanut butter pie, of course. But this one is PB&J, the "J" consisting of a homemade rhubarb jam. Topped off with some toasted graham cracker crumbs, this was a big hit at the nudist potluck party I went to (yeah, "nudist" means what you think it means).



But one of the best things I've started making is a roasted garlic and cauliflower soup. Oh. My. God. Not only is this really healthy, it tastes AMAZING. And such a good addition to the soon-to-be chilly nights we'll be getting in the Big Apple. I make mine a bit chunkier than normal soup and top it with some brown rice. Super, super filling, and guilt-free. Although I warn you: this is not a soup for a romantic first date. I reeked of pungent (yet delicious) garlic for the rest of the night. Luckily my script doesn't mind. He's good to me like that.



I added a few spoons of creme fraiche to the second batch of this soup and it didn't seem to make much difference, but perhaps there was an undertone of creamy tangy-ness. I'd stick to just chicken stock. But, I realized that the type of garlic I used DID change the character of this soup. I bought some fancy bulbs of garlic from the USQ farmer's market for batch #2 and I could swear the garlic in the soup had more depth. Maybe my mind just forced me to think that because I had to spend a buck fifty per (smallish) bulb.


If you're looking for a cocktail food to serve at your upcoming soiree, I'd say this soup can be transformed very easily. Just use a bit less chicken stock while blending and perhaps throw in a couple spoonfuls of grated Romano (or any ol' dry, crumbly cheese). Voila! Contemporary veggie dip.


And what do I do when a hurricane blows through the city? Make banana chocolate chip bread, of course. I'd had enough of surfing the internet, pretending to write, and reading in bed and decided to putter around the kitchen for a bit. This turned out surprisingly good. So good in fact that I'm ready to call this the ONE banana bread recipe I'll be using from now on. So good I refuse to tell you how much I ate hunched over the kitchen counter. (Hint: more than one bite.)


Alright, my devoted fans. I hope this tides you over for a bit. I'll be back soon with more. Funny thing about unemployment: it's doing wonders for my cooking. (Just learned about an amazing baking supply store in Manhattan that's much to convenient for me to get to. This does not bode well for my budget.)

Ummm....that wasn't me. Swear.


PEANUT BUTTER PIE FOR MIKEY (based on recipe from In Jennie’s Kitchen)

8 oz chocolate cookies
4 tbsp butter, melted
8 oz finely chopped chocolate
1/3 cup peanuts
1 ¼ cup heavy cream
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 14 oz can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinches of salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Roast peanuts in an oven set to 350 degrees till warm and toasty. Keep an eye on them, as they’ll turn dark quickly. After they’ve cooled, chop them up a bit.

Put cookies in a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Add butter and a pinch of salt. Pule till combined. Press mixture into the bottom of a pie pan.

Melt chocolate in double boiler or microwave. Stir in ¼ cup of heavy cream, along with the red pepper flakes. Spread half the chocolate mixture on the bottom of the crust and top with a sprinkling of half the chopped peanuts. Place pan in fridge as you prepare filling.

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and store in fridge. Beat cream cheese and peanut butter together till light and fluffy. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar, then condensed milk. Add vanilla and lemon juice, and a small pinch of salt. Beat until all ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir 1/3 of whipped cream into filling mixture and fold in the other two thirds.

Pour half the filling into the prepared pan and spread out. Top with the rest of the chocolate, and sprinkle on the rest of the chopped peanuts. Refrigerate for three hours or up to overnight before serving.

ROASTED GARLIC AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Note: This is the kind of soup you can do almost anything to, add any vegetable, but I’d recommend always having the cauliflower. It gives the soup it’s creamy and binding texture.

1 small head cauliflower, chopped (medium florets)
1-2 bulbs garlic, cut in half
2 leeks, washed and chopped (1” pieces)
½ eggplant, chopped (1” pieces)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 tsp rosemary, chopped fine
Sprinkling salt
Sprinkling black pepper
½ to 1 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread vegetables on a baking sheet and cover with oil. Sprinkle on herbs, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Roast veggies for about 20 to 25 minutes, till soft and caramelized. Place veggies in food processor (take roasted garlic out of skins) and pulse till becoming smooth. Add chicken stock little by little till you get the consistency you like. Serve. 

AMAZING BANANA BREAD (from Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/2006/11/speckled-for-the-freckled/)

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ cup flour
3/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Prehead oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter into mashed bananas and ass sugar, egg, vanilla, then spices. Add salt and baking soda. Add flour and mix till almost combined. Add walnuts and chocolate chips. Mix till just combined.

Pour mixture into a buttered loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool and serve.